Indie Spotlight: Freakonomics Being Documentary-ized
In an attempt to shed some light on some independent films and expand our horizons from the typical mainstream blockbusters and comic book movies, I'm going to occasionally feature an indie movie that's in the news. Today it's an upcoming adaptation of the New York Times Bestseller by Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner - Freakonomics. The catch is that a group of documentary directors are teaming up to make a documentary based on Freakonomics, with each making a 15 minute segment based off of a couple of chapters.
The film is being produced by Chad Troutwine (Paris Je T'aime) and Seth Gordon (The King of Kong), and they have enlisted Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me), Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing (Jesus Camp), Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room), Laura Poitras (My Country My Country), Eugene Jarecki (Why We Fight) and Jehane Noujaim (Control Room) to each direct a segment on chapters in the book.
Eugene Jarecki will cover the last subject (the socioeconomic patterns of naming children) in his segment, while Alex Gibney will focus on the cheating teachers and sumo wrestlers, the latter of which created a national scandal in Japan. The other directors are finalizing their topics. Shooting will begin in January and will be completed by summer. The 15 minute segments will be bound together to make a feature-length film.
The book uses theory and statistics to analyze pop culture phenomena. Levitt and writing collaborator Dubner dub the material in this work "freakonomics" because Levitt uses analytical tools from economics to address a range of questions that, at first glance, might seem to be far removed from the discipline of the "dismal science." They consider questions such as how to determine if teachers are aiding in students' cheating on standardized tests, the impact of information asymmetry on the operation of the Ku Klux Klan, how the organizational structure of crack gangs resemble other businesses, and the influence of parents on child development.
Although I haven't read Freakonomics and am only slightly familiar with its concept, this sounds like a perfect way to take advantage of the interesting content and put it on the big screen. They've got some great documentary directors, including Seth Gordon of The King of Kong and Morgan Spurlock of Super Size Me and the upcoming Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden?.